I have had many encounters with marble, most notably.. until the Pergamon show, in Rome, in the vatican Museums and Michelangelo's Moses. Rome is practically riddled with it and I discovered I really very much love stone. Not forgetting the Galleria Borghese where a certain marble rape takes place, it is a beautifully disturbing masterpiece which i spent several hours contemplating. Now, marble, as far as art is concerned, is not at all trivial. And very substantial - it doesn't wobble as paintings do and works quite well even in pieces or fractured.
Marble can certainly be decorative but when it is done by a master's hand it is the ultimate fine art. There's a shift that occurs when the decorative purpose gives way to craftsmanship and it seizes to be just a pretty object but a work of art. I'd imagine you can't fix marble, the bliss of undo totally unavailable in this medium. Oil painting can be fixed, architecture can be fixed, i know of a certain skyscraper in New York that got fixed, but you can't fix marble.
What was special of the Pergamon show at the Met was that, unlike all the other stone at the Louvre, or British Museum, or Rome, the Met was curated and installed by world class talent with desire to not just show but tell a compelling story through visual means. The show was impeccably devised and paced, you wouldn't think your mind is being controlled by beauty.
Don't think i have ever seen a sculpture show this strong.. most I have seen in world class museums were well presented exhibitions.. or in the case of Florence - a strong focus on one sculpture or artist. I remember very little of my long plane ride as I worked on my photographs of the show and my entire head turned, for a few hours, into a marble one.
This show was the art equivalent of Noah's Ark, it had all art of all the world that came after it. Michelangelo was an heir of these sculptures, and Andy Warhol, Dali, Picasso, Van Gogh.. everything we know about art and about how we see the figure, until this very day all academies in the world draw figures and busts in the same exact manner. All we know of beauty, what is pleasing, what is good to the eye, began with the standards these ancient greek sculptors established two millennia and some. I have been hearing trumpets of bliss in my head ever since i saw the Pergamon show. And i am glad I took my camera to it as it is, sadly now, dissipated into all corners of the world.
One more thing to add - occasionally I listen to Indian mystics who say they feel one - the inside and outside they feel as one, there is a blurry line as to who they perceive as themselves and where their inner world ends and the outer world begins. Not there yet myself. But on the particular instance of seeing the Pergamon exhibit - i felt as one with a much much larger world, not just the inside and the outside, but all past and present felt as one. That is how I imagine nirvana if there's one such thing.